On Judge Dredd

Judge Dredd is really not about “Dredd the character as we know him,” but being more Systerstor-Stallone-film-with-Seamus-Harper (see Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda on Harper). It’s a very, very poor film with only some brief basis of the British Comic 2000 AD.


According to the Bloody Film review:

Dredd 3D hit theatres last weekend, and while it didn’t break any box office records, the latest film adaptation of the cult British comic  character Judge Dredd  is a crowd pleaser. A movie full of dark humour and clever one-liners, stylized visuals, and ultra-violent gun battles, it sticks close to the source material.

The new Dredd movie is so slick in fact, it almost lets you forget the first. Almost.

Seventeen years ago, Sylvester Stallone tried his hand at dishing out justice in 1995′s Judge Dredd. It was a cheesy, slapstick attempt at the UK comic icon that would probably have disappeared into bargain bins long since, had it not been for Stallone’s star-powered name.

Judge Dredd (1995)

Sly Stallone stars as the gun-toting law enforcement officer of the future, Judge Dredd, in a movie loosely based on the eponymous comic series.

From the moment you press play, Judge Dredd feels like a lost cause. A cheese-ball opening monologue from James Earl Jones ensures your eyes are already starting to roll by the time ‘Rob Schneider’ appears in the credits.

Next come the dated 90s special effects, which have aged about as well as Sly’s face (minus the plastic surgery).

If you make it as far as the cannibal cyborg-hillbillies, you’ve probably lost all interest in the limping story and paint-by-numbers characters anyway. At this point there’s not much else to do but sit back and enjoy that special brand of so-lame-it’s-funny sidekick comedy that 90s era Rob Schneider did so well.

Watching ‘Dredd, you get the sense Stallone himself knew it would be a box office bomb. He rushes his way through each and every goofy one-liner, like he can’t wait to throw off the cheap plastic costume and run home to write another Rocky.

But where Judge Dredd fails most, is ignoring some of the rich source material of the Dredd comics. The dark dystopian world of Mega-City One feels about as grim and foreboding as a skittles commercial. With bright 90s colours creeping their way into the city scenes,  you half expect Marty McFly to come surfing around the corner on a pink hoverboard.

And fanboys will tell you – in 35 years of Dredd, the Judge seldom removes his signature helmet, and doesn’t actually show his face once. It takes Judge Dredd just 25 minutes to break that rule.

If there’s a diamond in the rough here – it’s Armand Assante, as the evil Judge Rico. Rico is the antithesis of the orderly Dredd, an emotional, chaotic man with an obsession with selfish personal  freedom. The energetic and wild-eyed Assante manages to inject some adrenaline  into an otherwise comatose flick.

You betrayed the law!

If you aren’t a Dredd fanboy or a Stallone devotee, there’s still one good reason to watch this movie. The bizarre ‘you betrayed the law!’ scene, where Armand Assante inexplicably screams ‘LAAAWW’ in Stallone’s face.

It’s been parodied on G4′s Attack of the Show, and remains, unfortunately, one of the most memorable moments from Judge Dredd.

The pulp 90s – Dredd wasn’t alone

The mid 1990s was an age of revival for classic pulp heroes and more modern comic characters  like Dredd. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a very successful one. Big names and even bigger budgets couldn’t stop movies like The Shadow and The Phantom from failing critically and commercially.

A few of those 90s pulp flicks, namely The Rocketeer, have since surfaced as cult favourites.



One thought on “On Judge Dredd

  1. Pingback: On Dredd | The Progressive Democrat

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